Celtic’s Champions League hopes ended by AEK


Paris (AFP) – Brendan Rodgers’s Celtic were dumped out of the Champions League by AEK Athens as they slumped to a 2-1 loss in their third qualifying round, second leg in Greece on Tuesday.

The Scottish champions had been held to a 1-1 draw despite their opponents playing much of the game with only 10 men in last week’s first leg at Parkhead, and failed to turn the tie around after Rodrigo Galo gave the hosts a sixth-minute lead.

Croatian forward Marko Livaja’s strike early in the second half left Celtic needing two unanswered goals to progress.

Former Manchester City winger Scott Sinclair headed home with 12 minutes remaining to give Celtic hope, but AEK held on.

The Greek champions go on to face Hungarians MOL Vidi in the playoff round, while 1967 European Cup winners Celtic slip into the same stage of the Europa League after failing in their bid to reach the Champions League proper for a third straight season.

It is the first time that former Liverpool manager Rodgers has lost back-to-back games since taking charge of Celtic in 2016, after their shock 1-0 Scottish Premiership defeat at Hearts last Saturday.

Elsewhere, two-time European champions Benfica sealed a 2-1 aggregate victory over Fenerbahce.

Following a 1-0 first-leg home win, 19-year-old midfielder Gedson Fernandes netted a crucial away goal as they progressed despite Alper Potuk equalising on the night for Fenerbahce.

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